An Auckland businessman has pleaded guilty after New Zealand's financial watchdog accused him of stealing $100,000 from investors with a non-existent foreign exchange service.
Rodney McCall, also known as Rodney Crichton, was charged in May last year by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) with offences under the Crimes Act and the FMA Act.
The FMA accused McCall of contacting people - some of whom had already fallen victim to another fraudster who worked with McCall - and convinced them to "invest" by transferring money into bank accounts he controlled.
After incorporating a company, Morgan Cooper Limited, he further cold-called other investors to promote a foreign exchange investment service which didn't exist.
The FMA said McCall obtained just under $100,000 from those he contacted.
Neither he, nor his company was authorised or licensed by the FMA.
Today, at a brief hearing in the Manukau District Court, McCall pleaded guilty to two representative charges of obtaining by deception, one representative charge of dishonestly using a document and two charges of obstruction of the FMA's powers under the Financial Markets Authority Act.
McCall obstructed the FMA during its investigation by giving false evidence in purported compliance with a notice issued to him under the FMA Act.
Judge Charles Blackie remanded him on bail until his sentencing in late July, however, he offered a warning to the now convicted McCall, saying bail should not be an indication of a likely sentence.
The court also heard through McCall's lawyer that the fraudster is attempting to collate some reparation for his victims.
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The FMA had initially charged McCall with 16 counts of obtaining by deception, three charges of dishonestly using a document and two charges of obstruction of the FMA's powers.
The maximum penalty for the fraud charges is seven years' imprisonment, while the maximum penalty for obstructing the investigation is a fine of $300,000.
McCall's initial investors were also investors in PTT Limited, which was McCall's former employer.
PTT's director, Steven Robertson, was last year sentenced to six years and eight months' imprisonment for misappropriating millions of dollars from his clients to fund a lavish lifestyle of expensive European cars, luxury weekend getaways, overseas holidays - including by private jet - and jewellery.
Robertson boasted he was "as good as John Key" and was described by one victim as a "very persuasive sort of a fella... I reckon he could sell ice to an Eskimo".
His appeal to reduce his sentence was rejected by the Court of Appeal last week.
The FMA said in a statement tonight that the prosecution of McCall was important because he preyed on vulnerable people, including re-victimising those who had invested with Robertson and PTT Limited, by purporting to offer a legitimate investment prospect.
"The FMA will take enforcement action where it sees conduct at the perimeter of financial markets that harms investors or could damage the reputation of New Zealand's financial markets," the agency's head of enforcement Karen Chang has earlier said.
"Investors should always check if the person or company they are dealing with is licensed by the FMA, which provides basic protections."